AstraZeneca’s massive leukemia drug sheds light on the performance of immunotherap

The world’s largest cancer drugs manufacturer, AstraZeneca, recently announced some stunningly positive data on a new immunotherapy drug: at least 80 percent of people receiving the so-called COVID-19 antibody drug had to be restarted…

AstraZeneca’s massive leukemia drug sheds light on the performance of immunotherap

The world’s largest cancer drugs manufacturer, AstraZeneca, recently announced some stunningly positive data on a new immunotherapy drug: at least 80 percent of people receiving the so-called COVID-19 antibody drug had to be restarted on other chemotherapy drugs at some point, after the drug wiped out their tumors. The drug is called in the U.S. COVID-19 after the leukemia drug COVID-1, which AstraZeneca licensed in 2000.

This is a key success story, the result of six years of cardiovascular trials, which began in 2010. The company’s annual earnings fell 50 percent in 2017, after its quarterly drug sales fell by 39 percent. The drug is currently available in a handful of countries, but it’s commercially unproven in the U.S. until in 2019.

AstraZeneca is relatively new to immunotherapy, an alternative to traditional chemotherapy in which drugs bind to cancer cells and stop them from working as effectively. But the company is hoping its drug will become the go-to treatment for patients with specific types of cancer, like leukemia, where drug combinations work better than ever before.

“We have shown that it works on all patients,” according to Olivier Brandicourt, AstraZeneca’s CEO.

At least one cancer association has reported that the therapy is too strong for patients with cancer that has spread to other organs. Glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer in adults, gets tested against COVID-19 on its T-cells, which are like soldiers, and how much COVID-19 works for them determines whether the tumor will still attack the brain. It’s expected to take about two years to be aware of COVID-19’s effectiveness in glioblastoma.

Coincidentally, Pfizer said this week that a new immune-boosting drug it owns that works similarly to COVID-19, called Bavencio, also showed promising results.

“[Coincidence?]” Ryan McPartland, a director of science at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, wrote to Crain’s New York Business. “In cancer medicine these parallels are too frequent to ignore, especially when the drugs are competing in treatment for the same targeted tumor.”

The FDA declined a Pfizer request to allow more companies to test the drug against people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, also called NHL, which is very rare in the U.S. However, the FDA could review the data and potentially approve the drug, depending on the results.

Bioethicist Mark D. Crislip wrote that other drugs are already already being tested with the expectation of COVID-19 reaching the market. “I can think of no reason why their costs should increase simply because they will soon be compared to a far superior product,” he wrote to CJR. “In fact, a fair bit of money will probably save people by extending their lives or giving them a less effective treatment. It will be interesting to watch as this decade of investment in this promising therapy may pay dividends at a time when some of the world’s leading cancer charities are competing for more money than ever.”

However, the FDA has approved several immunotherapies for other cancers to be launched in the U.S. earlier than planned, due to striking success, causing some to question how COVID-19 will perform.

Others caution that efficacy will depend on how much COVID-19 is combined with other drugs. So, the FDA’s approval could get more expensive if it’s paired with more expensive drugs, they say.

The world’s largest cancer drug manufacturer, AstraZeneca, recently announced some stunningly positive data on a new immunotherapy drug: at least 80 percent of people receiving the so-called COVID-19 antibody drug had to be restarted on other chemotherapy drugs at some point, after the drug wiped out their tumors. The drug is called in the U.S. COVID-19 after the leukemia drug COVID-1, which AstraZeneca licensed in 2000.

This is a key success story, the result of six years of cardiovascular trials, which began in 2010. The company’s annual earnings fell 50 percent in 2017, after its quarterly drug sales fell by 39 percent. The drug is currently available in a handful of countries, but it’s commercially unproven in the U.S. until in 2019.

AstraZeneca is relatively new to immunotherapy, an alternative to traditional chemotherapy in which drugs bind to cancer cells and

Leave a Comment